Book Notice: Thomas and the Gospels

Mark Goodacre
Thomas and the Gospels: The Case for Thomas’s Familiarity with the Synoptics
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012.
Available at Amazon.com

In this book, the erudite Biblioblog Father, Prof. Mark Goodacre (Duke University) enters into the debate as to what relationship the  Gospel of Thomas has with the Synoptic Gospels. Personally, I think Goodacre scores a slam dunk in showing the dependence of the GThom on the Synoptic Gospels. GThom shows awareness of the redactional features of Matthew and Luke which makes it unlikely that GThom is an earlier and independent version of the Jesus tradition. It makes me wonder if GThom is best described as an “esoteric Gospel harmony of Jesus loga.” Goodacre does a good job of showing that while GThom is not a wormhole into an earlier phase of the Jesus tradition, nonetheless GThom is an important document and essential for the study of Gospel literature. I also like Goodacre’s explanation as to why GThom is so Synoptic-like, namely, because the Synoptic sayings are the necessary baggage that GThom chooses to carry to make  his newly constructed living Jesus accessible. The new Jesus gets a foot in the door by sounding like the old Jesus. Probably one place I would disagree with Goodacre is in his claim that GThom does not attempt to displace the Synoptics. Given the polemic against the other disciples in GThom, I can’t help but think that GThom tries to discredit the Gospels associated with them.

Recommended also is Chris Skinner’s What Are They Saying about the Gospel of Thomas (with my notice here) for an overview of Thomasine resarch. Simon Gathercole The Composition of the Gospel of  Thomas has recently argued that GThom knew Matthew and Luke and even the writings of Paul (Josh Jipp argues similarly in the book I edited Paul and the Gospels). Finally, while the Parable of the Wicked Tenants is a favourite pet text to prove the priority and independence of GThom from the Synoptics (e.g., J. Kloppbenborg), but John Meier provides a convincing case in the Frank Matera festshrift in demonstrating how the parable makes better sense on the assumption of Thomasine posterity.

See also Goodacre’s video with Eerdmans about his book:

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  • http://twitter.com/goodacre Mark Goodacre

    Many thanks, Mike!


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